is it better to travel with cash or card in mexico


When planning a trip to Mexico, one of the most important decisions to make is whether to carry cash or use a card for your expenses. While both have their pros and cons, it’s crucial to understand the best option that suits your travel needs. In this article, I will explore the advantages and disadvantages of both cash and card, helping you make an informed decision for your travel to Mexico.

Using Cash in Mexico


Carrying cash in Mexico can be beneficial as it provides a sense of security and control over your expenses. With cash, you can easily budget your spending and avoid overspending. Additionally, cash is widely accepted at local markets, street vendors, and smaller establishments where card payments may not be an option.


However, using cash comes with its downsides. Carrying large amounts of cash can make you a target for theft, especially in tourist areas. Furthermore, if you run out of cash, finding an ATM in remote locations can be challenging, leaving you stranded without access to funds.

Using Card in Mexico


Using a card for your expenses in Mexico offers convenience and security. Most major establishments accept credit and debit cards, allowing you to make purchases without the need for carrying large amounts of cash. Additionally, if your card gets lost or stolen, you can easily report it and get a replacement, whereas lost cash cannot be recovered.

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Despite the benefits, using a card in Mexico may come with additional fees and currency conversion charges. Additionally, in some remote areas, card payment options may be limited, requiring you to have a backup plan for cash transactions.

Best Practices for Traveling in Mexico

Using a Combination of Cash and Card

To maximize flexibility and security, it’s advisable to use a combination of cash and card when traveling in Mexico. Having a small amount of cash for daily expenses and using a card for larger purchases or emergencies can provide a balanced approach to managing your finances.

Informing Your Bank or Credit Card Company

Prior to your travel, notify your bank or credit card company about your trip to Mexico. This ensures that your transactions are not flagged as fraudulent, preventing any unexpected holds or blocks on your card while abroad.

Using ATMs Wisely

When using ATMs in Mexico, choose ones located within banks or secure areas to minimize the risk of card skimming or theft. Additionally, withdraw larger amounts to minimize the frequency of ATM usage and reduce associated fees.

Carrying Emergency Cash

Regardless of your primary payment method, always carry a small amount of emergency cash in a separate, secure location. This can come in handy in case of unforeseen circumstances such as card malfunctions or loss.

Cultural Considerations

Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the local customs and tipping practices in Mexico. While card payments are widely accepted, cash tips are still preferred in many establishments, especially in the service industry. Having cash on hand for gratuities can ensure a smooth and respectful interaction with locals.


Ultimately, the decision to travel with cash or card in Mexico depends on your personal preferences, spending habits, and the nature of your itinerary. Both cash and card offer their own set of advantages and limitations, and a balanced approach that incorporates both can provide the best of both worlds. By following best practices and staying informed about local customs, you can enjoy a seamless and worry-free travel experience in Mexico.

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1. Are credit and debit cards widely accepted in Mexico?

Yes, major credit and debit cards are widely accepted in most urban areas and tourist destinations in Mexico. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash for smaller establishments and markets.

2. What currency is used in Mexico?

The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). While US dollars are accepted in some tourist areas, it’s recommended to have local currency for most transactions.

3. Are there ATMs readily available in Mexico?

ATMs are plentiful in urban centers and popular tourist destinations in Mexico. However, in remote or rural areas, access to ATMs may be limited, so it’s best to plan ahead for cash withdrawals.

4. Are there specific safety precautions to consider when carrying cash in Mexico?

When carrying cash in Mexico, it’s important to keep it concealed in a secure money belt or pouch to avoid attracting unnecessary attention. Additionally, avoid displaying large sums of money in public areas.

5. What should I do if my card gets lost or stolen in Mexico?

If your card goes missing while in Mexico, immediately contact your bank or credit card issuer to report it. Most financial institutions offer 24/7 customer service and can assist you in blocking the lost card and arranging for a replacement.